2016-05-05 / Around Town

Laser Fleet Honors Moose

By Joe Berkeley

J22 and J24 World Champ Moose Mc- Clintock, esteemed by Lasers too. J22 and J24 World Champ Moose Mc- Clintock, esteemed by Lasers too. Prior to the ceremony that would honor his dedication to Newport’s Laser Fleet 413 as its stellar, beloved, race committee chief, things were not going Moose McClintock’s way. He had been informed that the powerboat that the volunteer needed to move marks was broken down. His mark boat would have to make do with a nine-foot inflatable which, in his words, “would barely fit a mark in it.” Fellow sailors at the skipper’s meeting, knowing what was to follow, were asking deliberately obtuse (for an experienced sailor) questions.

Laser World Champion Peter Shope, who lives in Middletown, queried, “Moose, what’s a triangle course?”

Fleet co-captain Jack McVicker then pulled up behind McClintock towing the new rigid-bottom inflatable, which had been donated to Sail Newport by Fleet 413 and named “Moose” in tribute to one of Newport’s greatest sailors, mentors, and race committee members.

Moose McClintock knows his way around a race course. He has won six J24 World Championships, three J24 North American Championships, three J24 National Championships, a J22 world championships, a Swan World Championship, and competed in several America’s Cups.

But if the man with the gruff exterior has a soft spot in his heart for one boat, it is the least expensive and most competitive: the Laser. “I’m part of the Laser generation. It’s the greatest boat of all time, he said I remember the first race of the first Laser World Championships in 1974. I rounded the first mark in first place and there were 100 boats behind me.”

Dave Moffet, has been with Fleet 413 since the beginning. “Moose has a sailing record, both professional and amateur matched by few in the world,” he said, “but on Sunday afternoons in the middle of winter that didn’t matter. What mattered is that as a competitor he was always out there raising the game for the rest of us. Moose now continues to raise our game,” Moffet added, “by running the best race committee and pushing us to do one more race when we can no longer feel our hands.”

Fleet 413 member Ed Adams, two-time Rolex Yachtsman of the Year and former Laser Master world champion, noted that for many years, Moose was the strongest person he had ever met. He remembers meeting him at URI when he was a freshman. “At my first practice at URI,” Adams recalled, “I made the mistake of trying to cut inside Moose at the leeward mark, after he had told me not to try. He reached out with his left hand, grabbed my bow, stood up in his boat, and actually lifted my entire boat into the air, flipping it bow over stern, on top of me. I steered clear of him the rest of my freshman year.”

Brad Read, executive director of Sail Newport, who won a J24 world championship with Moose onboard, said, “I’ve always looked up to him as a mentor. He taught us how to win.”

Read also noted another unique Moose skill. “I have never seen anyone who can look at a tangle of line in the cockpit and pick that ball of line up, look at it for three seconds, and completely untangle it.”

Gary Jobson, who was the winning tactician on board Courageous in the 1977 America’s Cup, said, “I have raced with and against Moose many times over the past 40 plus years. He is a very focused, competitive sailor. He can also seem stoic. In one match race, we were in a tough battle. Moose was our jib trimmer. When our arch-rival jumped the gun, I had to smile when Moose uttered, ‘Alright!’ He’s human, like the rest of us, I thought with a smile.”

Ken Read is quite busy as the President of North Sails. But when asked for a quote about Moose, he responded immediately. “Moose McClintock is one of the key people I owe my career to. Not only as a friend, but as a mentor. He and I sailed a million times back in our successful J-24 days.” What did he learn from Moose? “A lot I can’t talk about and a ton about winning and improving. We could win a race by half a leg and he would self critique every second of the race: ‘Never be satisfied, you can always improve.’ Thanks, Moose.”

At the dedication ceremony, host Mark Bear, a professor at MIT who has finished on the podium twice at the Laser Master Worlds, said, “How do you thank someone like this, the person who gives up his Sundays to freeze his tail off so we can have fun in our Lasers? If it were college basketball, we might name the court for him. If it is sailing, we might name a boat for him. So after due consideration, the fleet elders – in particular our leaders Jack McVicker and Peter Shope – rejected the idea of naming the new RIB Boaty McBoatface and instead have christened her Moose in honor of the guy who has given us so much.”

Joe Berkeley, a member of Fleet 413, is a professional writer and an amateur sailor. His work is at joeberkeley.com

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